How our assumptions work!
One day we develop an idea of what we are, of what our faults and advantages are, and then we stick to it. We seldom reevaluate.
And this brings me to the shock I’ve just had about me. A few days earlier I was researching depression on Wikipedia (a nifty pre-resource). I was spending time following various links on depression, causes, treatments, etc., when I started to read about obsessive compulsive disorder. I put two and two together and then came my shattering moment. I had it, I had OCD! If I hadn’t been already sitting, I’d have to sit down.
I knew about various disorders but never gave them much thought, since, you know, I never thought they were relevant to me. Sure, I have depression, I overuse defence mechanisms, I have trouble with memory and I’m prone to procrastination, but I never thought I had anything serious.
OCD means Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. This “is a mental disorder where people feel the need to check things repeatedly, perform certain routines repeatedly (called “rituals”), or have certain thoughts repeatedly. People are unable to control either the thoughts or the activities for more than a short period of time. Common activities include hand washing, counting of things, and checking to see if a door is locked. Some may have difficulty throwing things out. These activities occur to such a degree that the person’s daily life is negatively affected.” (From Wikipedia, 4/6/2017)
Now, I quite dislike the term disorder. Depression is just named depression (well, major depressive disorder, but I never say it). Disorder sounds serious illness to me. Yuck!
You can read more about OCD here.
What got my attention was, the obsession part of OCD features intrusive thoughts. I’ve had intrusive thoughts for a while now. I thought they were part of the stress of having little children, of exhaustion from breastfeeding and sleep deprivation. You know, when you lay down in bed and then fear, every moment now, a meteorite will fall just over your building and wiped out everything, and you won’t be able to do a dime. Who ever thinks of things like this?!
I know it’s a fat chance of a decent size meteorite to struck directly here, but who can help thoughts from coming? What’s more, I then picture various scenarios where I have more than zero chance of survival. Of protecting my children with my body and stuff. But many times, the control goes away, like, I’d be able to protect one, but not another. Really, really, bothersome thoughts. Just the opposite from my dreams. When I dream of something bad happening, I always come out victorious.
Then there are other intrusive thoughts. Thoughts that have truly made me worried.
I sometimes picture myself on a precipice, like a dam. At first, when I had these thoughts I thought of jumping. But later these thoughts became much more awful. I pictured pushing or throwing over my helpless children. These thoughts are awful. I think them, I know I shouldn’t, but can’t help myself. I feel terrible all the while because I wouldn’t do it in the real world. Or would I? This is maddening. Would I do something like this, because my thoughts betrayed me? Just to see what happens?
When I’m not ready for this answer, I shut down my mind, my defence mechanism no.1. I tell myself to breathe, to calm.
I will tackle this as well. But not today. I shall meet my enemy on a familiar territory, where, and when, I choose.
It keeps nagging at me. When I was about 7-9 years old, I held a small, heavy object over my sister’s head, thought about dropping it … and dropped it. It fell on her lip and gave her quite a swell. Luckily, nothing permanent. But the point is, I did it. I acted on impulse, even if I knew better. This is one of my few early memories. It must be significant.
But this subject is too much for me now. It will have to wait a bit longer. I must deal with other things first. Like, go to an MOS therapy.
Let’s move to the Compulsion part. Did you think I just had obsessions? No such luck.
I read about compulsions, I’ve known about them but still, I had to read about them at the right time to connect them with my symptoms.
I wash my hands more than necessary. Probably. I always thought I need to wash them after anything got on them. Dirt, food, cough, … It sounds logical. But my husband washes his hands half as much (and is still alive). Also, I pack my baby’s clothes in a clean bag before putting them in a suitcase for travel. Maybe I exaggerate. I don’t know, but it sounds like OCD.
I have (had it worse) the need to hang clothes for drying in colour scheme. I had sometimes “corrected” my husband’s hanging order. He was furious. I don’t see anything wrong with putting clothes in a closet by colour, but what is the practical point in putting them like that on the laundry stand? It’s just something that bothers me, not something I see as objectively right.
I like symmetry more than usual. I want the structure where there is flow.
They say skin picking can be a symptom of OCD. I do it. I always thought I was addicted to the habit. It gives me high. This may then fall into the addiction category. It’s different than nose picking which just gives me relief. The latter seems more OCD-ish.
Oh, sh…! Did I just confess I pick my nose? Gross, but true. I intend to stop someday.
Whatever. The bottom line is, I have a few OCD symptoms. It shook me because I never thought of myself as having a mental illness. I never regarded depression as an illness. I thought about it as an imbalance that I could someday balance. I thought of all my compulsions as bad habits, as some byproduct of depression and unchecked indulgence. But, let’s face it, poor self-control is typical for OCD.
What now?!! Is it an illness if I still mostly function?
I pack this for another thinking session. Share your thoughts below. Is perfectionism an OCD form?